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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

Less than a week after the Redskins hired Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach, Minnesota hired Cincinnati’s other coordinator. Mike Zimmer, the defensive guru for the Bengals, was announced as the ninth head coach in the Vikings’ history on Wednesday.

The Redskins requested an interview with Zimmer per NFL protocol when you are interested in talking to another team’s coordinator about your head coaching job. But the interview never happened. The Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, Gruden came to town for his interview on Tuesday evening and he never left.

There were some who thought that Zimmer might be a better fit for the Redskins as they have had big issues have on the defensive side of the ball. Even with Marvin Lewis, who made his reputation on the defensive side of the ball, at head coach the Bengals finished no better than 17th in total defense from 2003-2007. Since Zimmer joined them in 2008 they have been in the top 10 in defense four times including the last three years in a row. Not coincidentally, the Bengals made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Was Zimmer more what the Redskins need? They have not been in the top 10 defensively since 2009. As we saw from three of the NFC’s final four teams, a solid defense can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Defensive improvement may be the best way for Robert Griffin III to join peers Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Cam Newton as participants in the deep rounds of the playoffs.

I don’t think that anyone would have had a legitimate beef if Zimmer had been the guy. But for this team at this time, Gruden is probably the better fit.

Zimmer’s approach is similar to that of the departed Mike Shanahan, the old-school my way or the highway style. Gruden can get riled up when it’s called for (as we saw on Hard Knocks) but he is more of the enthusiastic, collaborative type coach. He is the breath of fresh air that this team needs rather than more of the same following the failed Shanahan regime.

And make no mistake about it, the fact that he was a quarterback in college and in the Arena League is a big factor in him being the right guy for the job. The most important task on this team for the next few years will be the development of Griffin. The fact that the head coach walked in Griffin’s shoes (or a version of them, anyway) will help in getting Griffin where he needs to be.

Still, as noted, Zimmer would have been a very solid hire in Washington as well. The good thing is, we’ll get some evidence as to whether the Redskins made the right choice on the field of play. The Vikings will be one of the Redskins’ opponents in 2014. While on head-to-head matchup won’t tell the whole story it could give us an idea of who is further ahead.

The full story, of course, will take a few years to unfold.

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

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